Erich Bloch was born in Sulzburg, Germany, in 1925 and holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Buffalo (1952). He also studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH-Zurich).
Bloch worked at IBM from 1952 to 1981 in a variety of critical technology management roles, including overseeing the difficult manufacturing challenges of IBM's groundbreaking System/360 family of mainframe computers in the 1960s. Bloch's other positions at IBM included engineering manager of the Stretch supercomputer system, head of the Solid Logic Technology (System/360) program, vice president of the Data Systems Division, and general manager of the East Fishkill development and manufacturing facility-critical components of IBM's global mainframe business strategy for over two decades.
As director of the US National Science Foundation from 1984 to 1990, Bloch oversaw the foundation's $3 billion annual budget and the award of more than 10,000 research grants in the natural and social sciences and engineering.
He was awarded the US National Medal of Technology for developments that revolutionized the computer industry and is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, a Fellow of IEEE, and a foreign member of the Engineering Academy of Japan.